BY: SEAN WATERS
It can be hard (and expensive) for real folk songwriters to make waves in an over-saturated music market. Especially if you’re a transplant who recently moved to Denver from Virginia.
Matt Rouch, however, has found a way to leverage his genuine mix of talent, kindness, and deep emotional honesty to set strong roots in his new scene.
For one, Rouch’s debut album – The Beautiful and the Damned – shows a maturity and professionalism that sets Rouch apart. I could rave on about The Beautiful and the Damned, about its vintage feel and endearing songwriting. I could marvel at how the recordings are accomplished productions where smart arrangements support Rouch’s honest vocal performances and lyricism.
But I’ll restrain myself, because others have already taken notice. Music Connection Magazine raved about the record’s “remarkable depth and subtlety.” Where others have noted connections to James Taylor and Fleet Foxes, I hear hints of The Band, Johnny Cash, and modern indie folk acts like Iron and Wine, the Decemberists, and the Tallest Man on Earth.
In researching this piece, I found other reviewers struggle to find the language describing a mysterious, intangible something going on behind the scenes. StereoStickMan mused that something “so much more … than what can simply be heard,” was going on, and I could hear this something when I listened. It pulled me in. What was it?
As I conversed with Rouch about his recent successes, I came to appreciate Rouch’s talent and a potential competitive advantage in the sea of acoustic alt-country folk. There’s a kindness and honesty that pervades his work. BeachSloth called him “clever and kind.” Jamsphere called him “wholesome and honest.” I found this kindness to be woven into each track.
Rouch confirmed that there were deep currents of kindness in the recordings, and said that the record –a which started as an
Rouch confirmed that there were deep currents of kindness in the recordings, and said that the record –a which started as an unassuming four song live demo – wouldn’t have existed without the professional kindness and dedication of others. From his girlfriend, who made the tracking sessions logistically possible, to Jonathan Osborne, the Engineer at Imprint studios who referred the work to Joseph Chudyk at Mockingbird studios in upstate in New York, who took an immediate and involved interest in producing and mixing the record. The result is a polished piece of art, of a “grassroots effort reaching across singer-songwriter landscapes in folk,” as Rouch put it.
Rouch’s new band, dubbed “The Noise Upstairs,” has provided a more intimate kind of friendship, kindness and talent. He now lives with his bandmates Alex Fostar (violin and electric guitar) and Justin Catanzaro (bass and electric guitar), and everything is going along just swell.
He just won in Best in Class for Strings for the Vertex Musical Championships, and the full band will get to play an hour set at next year’s festival. In many ways, Rouch is on the up-and-up, and I suspect his disarming kindness and honesty are helping him get there.
Matt Rouch and his band perform at Moe’s BBQ on September 16. Show details online at www.mattrouch.com.
Sean Waters is a local musician with The Seers and a writing instructor at CSU. He can be reached (email@example.com).